Really Good, Actually is the debut novel by Toronto writer and comedian Monica Heisey. If you’ve perused the essays and articles links on her personal website (an excellent use of your time while waiting for this book to come out) or considered her resume as tv writer for, among other shows, Schitt’s Creek, Workin’ Moms, and Baroness von Sketch Show, you have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into with this book. If not, I present the following section titles as evidence: “Well-Meaning Conversations with Loved Ones, Truncated at the Exact Moment They Start to Bring Up Kintsugi“, “Emotionally Devastating Things My Therapist Said to Me Like They Were Nothing“, and “Birthday Messages I Did Not Particularly Wish to Receive“.
Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days, but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée™.
Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of single life, intermittently dating, occasionally waking up on the floor and asking herself tough questions along the way.
Really Good, Actually is a modern telling of an age-old rite of passage: a break-up. It follows the story of our hero, Maggie and her tailspin into questioning everything – about herself, about her relationships, about marriage in general – after she made an off the cuff suggestion of divorce to her husband of less than two years and he didn’t disagree.
Heisey walks Maggie and her readers through all stages of post-break-up living including, but not limited to: disbelief that takes the form of incessant attempts to contact the ex, exploration of sexuality through hook-ups that vary in meaning (and an excellent peek into the world of dating on the apps), and testing the bonds of friendship through insisting on obsessively analyzing again and again (and again and again and again) everything that went wrong.
As readers, we’re off the hook of wondering whether Maggie and Jon will get back together because the story that we’re treated to is so much more than that. Maggie’s exploration of her sexuality, her tendency to mail it in at work, her compulsion to tweet too much and too critically and her very real challenge of keeping her head above water while living alone in Toronto are all sides that show us who she is and why we’re rooting for her. The true reward of this book is the exploration and restoration of Maggie and the relationships that she has a funny way of nurturing after her marriage is dissolved.
When I say Really Good, Actually is laugh out loud, I mean it, but I will also warn you that there are parts of this book you might read with your hands over your face because they are just so mortifying … and recognizable.
Really Good, Actually goes on sale January 17th and is available for preorder now. I don’t usually do star ratings, but I will say that I preordered this book after I finished reading my digital advanced copy. That has to tell you something.
Thank you to the teams at HarperCollins Canada and Netgalley for putting a copy of Really Good, Actually in my hands before its release date.
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